Grimes talking to key supporters before Senate decision


by Joe Arnold

Posted on May 10, 2013 at 1:43 AM

Updated Friday, May 10 at 7:27 AM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) -- It's been one week since Alison Lundergan Grimes last spoke publicly about the U.S. Senate race, but since then she's been talking extensively, privately.

Sources close to Grimes say she is reaching out to her biggest supporters from her 2011 election to Secretary of State to get their opinions and gauge their level of support for a U.S. Senate bid.

The state's top Democrat, Governor Steve Beshear, is encouraging Grimes to jump into the race and tells WHAS11 a candidate will be in place within months.

"Certainly by late summer, early fall we'll have a candidate that is out there and hitting the ground running and raising money," Beshear (D) said.

Sources tell WHAS11 Grimes' decision will happen sooner than that.

Beshear  was asked what would happen if Grimes decides not to enter the race.

"We're still discussing that race with a number of people," the governor replied, "And if she decides not to run, we'll continue those discussions and hopefully we're going to come up with a good strong candidate."

The Republican Party of Kentucky (RPK) said the Grimes talk is "a last ditch effort to recruit a candidate of even second-tier credibility" and questions whether some Democrats are serving their own political interests by pushing Grimes into a highly contentious race.

"(Grimes) is still very much on the fence about running. So it’s no wonder that she’s feeling the pressure from not only national Democrats but also ones in state," said RPK spokesperson Kelsey Cooper.

Though Grimes made clear she was referring to McConnell when she told WHAS11 she would "not be bullied" into making a decision, Cooper suggests Democrats are pressuring Grimes.

Attorney General Jack Conway, the 2010 Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, acknowledged that Grimes is being pressured.

"A lot of people are pressuring her right now to look at this race against Sen. McConnell," he said. "And all I've tried to do for Alison in this process is say, 'I went through his process a few years ago,' and be a resource for her and help her get the right information as she makes a decision.  And then I'll sit down and talk with her about her future and others' future down the road."

Meanwhile, statehouse democrats have yet another possible motivation to encourage Grimes to enter the race, so McConnell spends the bulk of his considerable campaign war chest on his own race instead of using a larger share to help Republican candidates for the Kentucky General Assembly and the U.S. Congress.